Sion School – an independent school in Worthing
As the new school term begins, the Headteacher of Our Lady of Sion School outlines how we can all help children navigate their own path in a turbulent world. Here, Steven Jeffery writes about his vision for his pupils’ future.
Every generation faces its own challenges. Human existence offers up a tapestry of experiences which may bring us immense joy, desperate sorrow or often, something somewhere in between.
If schools are to be successful places of education where we prepare young people for their lives ahead, we must ensure that we provide space for dialogue around those very issues that young people are collectively facing.
School life is not merely about academic progress and attainment. Although helping a young person to develop academic skills is hugely rewarding and immensely important, preparing children for real life is equally as important and must be an integral part of the school experience, whatever age the child happens to be.
Consider the recent headlines that have found their way into the minds and lives of our children. As young people scroll through their mobile phones, engaging with Tik-Tok, YouTube, Instagram et cetera, take a moment to consider what they have read, heard, and seen.
How do they manage this onslaught of information? Who offers a balanced review of all the stories they are harvesting? Who helps to allay fear and offer perspective? Are young people proactively sharing with their parents at home? Are they voluntarily talking with their teachers at school?
When you watch or read the news, how do you feel? Now consider watching through the eyes of an adolescent or a seven-year-old.
Finding time to sit together and talk about today’s world is more important than ever.
We need to ensure that our children grow up enjoying a healthy information diet that encourages questioning, the deciphering between what is real news and what is fake, the challenging of prejudice and unkindness and a clear understanding that there are people out there who want to make you think in a certain way and even act in a certain way.
If parents and teachers are not controlling and/or monitoring the diet, there will be issues around mental health, behaviour, attitudes, and beliefs. The home/school partnership has never been more essential.
Twenty years from now, these young people will be taking their positions behind the lecterns of power in this world of ours. As a teacher and Headteacher, I want to spend time talking to my student about what is going on in the world and how we respond to the news that we hear and see.
I want to sit with these young people and hear what matters to them, how they are filtering the information and also responding to it.
Where there is misunderstanding, let’s explore together without judgement in order to find solutions. Where there is an acceptance of fake news, let’s explore together to uncover what is real and true.
Where there is prejudice and/or ignorance around the facts and the context, let’s gently challenge and enable each other to consider our own errors of judgement, honing our ill-informed opinions in the crucible of truth.
This prepares our children for the real world. This will help them to navigate through the jungle of confusion out there.
Values and principles
Strong core values and an educated mind are vital for this world today. These will be the necessary superpowers needed to sustain this planet and humanity.
Young people’s curiosity and desire to learn and understand will lead to just the kind of generous, open-hearted, and deeply empathetic leaders our world is sorely in need of today.
That is why taking time to talk together is so important.
May we never be too busy to create spaces for dialogue.
Steven Jeffery is the Headteacher at Our Lady of Sion in Worthing, an independent school in a central location just two streets from the seafront.
With its small class sizes and ambitious curriculum, it’s a firm favourite among parents looking for a school that puts their children first. If you want to know more about Sion, visit www.sionschool.org.uk or email [email protected]